The best watercolor pencils you can buy!

Best watercolor pencils US

Quick introduction …

Watercolor pencils help you combine paintings and drawing. They are sharp giving you the added ability to add intricate details which would be difficult to achieve using a brush alone and can therefore achieve fantastic results.

There are of course many brands to choose from, but I’ve taken a look from an artist’s perspective to help you narrow down the best watercolor pencils on the market.

If you’re a beginner at watercolor penciling or a pro with many years under your belt, this guide will help you find the very best watercolor pencils for your artwork projects.

What is the best brand of watercolor pencils?

Below I have taken a look at some of the best brands we can find out there. I am constantly looking for quality products that stand the test of time and with my continued love for watercolor pencils, I wanted to share some of my research with you! If you’re interested in finding out more about art supplies, especially from a leading company like Derwent or Faber-Castell, we have guides written as reviews to help you gain an insight into what makes them great.

Disclaimer – This website contains affiliate links. If you find the information useful and click on a product link and make a purchase, a small commission will be earned by Big Red Illustration

Best watercolor pencils available to buy today … Top 10 best watercolor pencil sets.

1. Derwent Watercolor Pencils

About Derwent watercolour pencils

  • 3.3mm Core
  • Metal Tin
  • 24 Pencils (available in other pack sizes too)
  • Hexagonal 7mm barrel
  • Color names on the pencil

These watercolor pencils are undoubtedly one of the best brands of watercolor pencils for professional artists. Derwent watercolor pencils allow controlled control and a predictable outcome that you can rely on and be confident in using.

Derwent watercolor pencils offer bold, stunning colors. As a superb watercolor pencil that’s not too expensive, it’s a truly professional art tool. For color-intensive work, this is often the first choice for working commercial artists and illustrators. Highly recommended!

2. Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils


  • Faber castell Tin of 120 (other pack sizes available)
  • Professional Artist quality
  • Vivid colors including extensive shades
  • Perfect for landscapes, portraits and design
  • Produce unsurpassed watercolor effects

Faber Castell Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils cover with such ease and smoothness that even fully dry they immediately present incredibly rich, saturated colors. Wet or dry the pencils are incredibly controllable and the colors can be as wet and soft as you wish. The Faber Castell watercolor pencils offer a perfect finish excellent for expressive and precise detailed artwork and are in every way a high-quality product made using excellent quality materials.

The range of shades and colors in the 120 Colored Pencil tin set is unbelievable and will certainly give your work the wow factor.

They are not the cheapest, but they are definitely one of the best watercolor pencils out there. Trusted by professional artists all over the world!

3. Prismacolor Watercolor Pencil Set

About prismacolor watercolor pencils

  • High quality watercolor pencils
  • Soft Core
  • 36 Piece
  • Soft, thick cores can be perfect for shading and shadows.
  • Ultra-smooth, even color laydown
  • Lightfast, richly saturated pigments
  • Perfect for adult coloring books

If you are a keen artist or professional, you will have undoubtedly heard of the Primsacolor brand and know the high-quality products they offer. These watercolour pencils can shade easily when blended with water and cover evenly.

One drawback is selecting colors. Only 36 colors are available in the largest pack I could find, although there are several tins with different shades available, I’m unsure if you would double up on colors. Fine of course if you are looking for a more limited palette. Worth noting that if you are looking to paint skin, these may not be the best choice as the skin tones in the pack are limited to a few pinks, yellows & sepia which are of course blendable – but not a strong choice for a true flesh color.

At the time of writing, this 36 pice tin was on offer/promotion making them one of the best value watercolor pencils reviewed.

4. Staedtler Triangular Watercolor Pencils


  • Staedtler Presharpened triangular shape Watercolor Pencils
  • Ergonomic triangular barrels) watercolor pencil sets
  • Box of 12 or 24 Triangular Colored Pencils
  • Create strong, distinct lines,
  • smooth color, along with soft washes and shades
  • Beginners to a professional

This summer I have been using Staedtler’s water-soluble pencils for a number of my illustration projects. I am thoroughly impressed with how comfortable they are to use with the Triangular barrel. The watercolor pencils are perfect for achieving deep tones all the way through to delicate, translucent mist effects.

I can also use the water-soluble pencils watercolor effects with good quality paper or canvas without it damaging either material. This product is great for painters as well as hobbyists and crafters who want high-quality German products that work well.

5. Staedtler Karat Aquarell Workshop 60 Watercolour Pencils


  • High-quality watercolor pencil
  • For a wide range of creative effects when coloring, drawing or watercoloring with water and brush
  • High blending quality
  • Break-resistant lead
  • Smooth, color-intensive performance

Staedtler watercolor pencils are designed for both beginners and experts with intense colors that blend well. These come in a standard rectangle shape rather than triangular as the previous pencils from the same brand.

The Karat Aquarell watercolor pencils are high quality with a vast range of colors making it simple to create different effects when painting. These pencils blend well, stay intact, and don’t break easily when sharpening or drawing. These watercolor pencil sets are perfect for those who love using color pencils but want to incorporate watercolors into their projects.

6. Arteza watercolor pencils

paint brushes


  • Arteza Watercolor Pencils
  • Sets of 48 or 72
  • Multi Colored Art Drawing Pencils
  • Bright Assorted Shades
  • Coloring, Blending and Layering
  • Watercolor Techniques

If you have read any of my other art product reviews, you’ll know I’m a fan of Areza materials for the quality and value for money. These watercolor pencils are no exception – I am very impressed with this set considering the price point. The colors are highly pigmented and they blend well, although I would say they are more student grade than professional.

The pencils easily paint on the paper and they don’t smudge when water is added to them. The only downside I would say was that there are not a lot of varying shade ranges but for most art projects, this may not be an issue.

If you’re looking for a high-quality set of watercolor pencils that won’t break the bank, this may well be perfect for you.

7. Cretacolor Watercolor Pencil Set

paint brushes


  • Cretacolor Aqua Monolith Woodless Watercolor Pencil Set
  • No wood to hold pencil lead
  • 72-Color Set
  • Highly pigmented
  • 7mm in diameter of pure colored lead
  • Easily sharpened
  • Can be used dry or wet

These were great to try! Woodless barreled watercolor pencils are just that – pencils that are basically just a watercolor held together in a varnish. The varnish prevents the color from being transferred onto the fingers. While firm enough to be sharpened the watercolor tip gives you wide options from the side edge to fine detail. They’re a bit like using watercolor wax crayons!

They are a great choice for any level of artist. The pencils are high quality and have excellent pigment. They also work great when they are wet or dry. This set also comes with many colors to choose from. I really love that there are 72-colors in the set.

The colors are bright and intense, but they don’t smudge or feather out too much when wet. I recommend these for anyone who would like to get into watercolor pencils, or even if you have been using them for a while and would like to try out a new type / woodless option.

8. Caran D’Ache Museum Aquarelle Watercolor Pencils

paint brushes


  • 2 Sets – Landscape Set of 20 Colours & Marine set of 20
  • Soft watercolor pencils
  • Wet or dry colored pencils
  • 20 colors in each set

The Caran d’Ache Museum aquarelle watercolor pencils are both really great sets, with the shades being tailored to the type of artwork you intend on producing.

The pencils offer water-soluble, durable colors that were a pleasure to use. The landscape I was working on with these certainly benefited from the smooth and flowing transfer of pigment on paper. A great investment to my artist’s tool kit for sure – my colleague here at Big Red actually prefers these to the Faber Castell or Derwent sets.

9. Castle Art Supplies Watercolor Pencils Set

paint brushes


  • By Castle Art Supplies
  • 72 Watercolor Pencils Set
  • Adults, Artists, Professionals
  • Vibrant Colors
  • Beautiful Blending Effects with Water

Castle Art Supplies watercolor pencils for artists offer lots of bold and beautiful colors which apply with remarkable smoothness and consistency, dry wet or dry. They’ll also feel great in the hand: strong, comfy, and of high quality.

I found that they lasted well and I was able to create some beautiful mixing effects with water to extend the color palette. Blending with a brush or blender pen removed pencil marks well.

I really like how the pencils are organized, layered, and presented in a metal tin as well.

10. Winsor & Newton Studio Collection Artist Pencils

paint brushes


  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Set of 24
  • Soft textured for easy blending wet or dry
  • Highly pigmented colour,
  • Excellent lightfastness
  • Round, cedar wood barrel
  • Break-resistant 3.7mm core that sharpens cleanly to a point
  • dry color or wet with a brush

I love Winsor and Newton watercolors and other art materials they produce, they are a firm favorite with my colleagues too. The quality of these pencils are comparable to other products from this company, which is always a good sign. Always reliable these watercolor pencils did not disappoint! The set has a good variety of colors for the price, including muted tones to more bright colors which is perfect if you’re looking for versatility.

Already a great price perfect for students, at the time of writing this set was on offer too, making them even more affordable and superb value for money.

Summary – best watercolor pencils


Best colored pencils for sketching,

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils are great for sketching. Whey can be applied lightly in layers to create the desired effect.

Best Watercolor Pencils For Beginners

All of the products above are perfect for beginners, reading the reviews for each will help you determine if the individual features and benefits for each are right for you. In particular, budget is usually a deciding factor for non-professionals as the final artwork may not be for sale and will not generate a profit covering the materials used.

Best value for money pencils

The Arteza series of watercolor pencils and the Winsor and Newton sets offer the best value for money. Affordable pencils whilst still offering a workable quality.

More Information About The Best Watercolor Pencils:


Watercolor pencil vs Watercolor paint

Are watercolor pencils better than watercolor paint?

In many ways, watercolor pencils are better than watercolor paints for a couple of reasons. The first is because they sharpen like regular pencils and come in various degrees of hardness so you have more control over the look of your art. Secondly, it’s easier to get clean and even lines with watercolor pencils.

Watercolor painting large areas however is typically easier with rational paints and brushes, so it depends on your project what you’ll find best to work with.

Every product has its own set of pros and cons so it really depends on your personal preferences when deciding what’s best for you! These are just some factors which may persuade you to stick with a particular medium or try something new 🙂

Top Tip: Don’t mix up a normal colored pencil with a watercolor pencil!

Are watercolor pencils worth it?

Yes, watercolor pencils are worth it. Traditional watercolor paints are a difficult medium to work with. Using the best watercolor pencils lets you take your time and offers the ability to add more complex details than using a brush and watercolor paints alone. They also often offer the opportunity to layer and blend colors together with a blender pen such as the “Ecoline Brush Pen Blender”.


Best watercolor blender pen


So, in summary, I hope that this article helps you make your choice when it comes to the best pencils. If you have any questions at all, please get in touch and someone from our team will respond as soon as possible. Also, if you use other brands that aren’t mentioned in this article, and consider them the be the best watercolor pencils feel free to mention it – we always love to learn more!

If you love coloring with pencils as much as I do – why not take a look at the best oil based color pencils here.

Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.